Sunday, 19 March 2017

Doctoring Evil: The Making and Hunting of Witches in Assam

In 2016, India celebrated the Olympic medals brought home by PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik. But women who make unconventional choices like becoming sportspersons do not always get rewarded. Assam's Debjani Bora, who has won gold at the national level for her javelin throws, was targeted as a witch in 2014 in the state and assaulted, of all the places, in a community prayer hall. Debjani's case puts into question one of the biggest myths around witch-hunting, that it takes place only due to superstition, ignorance and lack of education in far-flung remote villages, and among poor, uneducated people. Superstition might be one of the causes of branding women as witches and the subsequent attacks on them, but talking to one survivor after another, or the families of those who succumbed, brings to light many incidents that have been perpetrated with clear motivation and deliberate planning.

While not the only one, Assam is one state where witch-hunting cases have been taking place for years; it is also the state in the northeast with the lowest gender development index. Witch-hunting in Assam is supposedly more common among the Rabha, Hajong, Mishing, Bodo and other tribal groups. Women are not the only targets but it is worth noting, as shared by Chitralekha Barua of North East Network (NEN), a women's rights group based in Guwahati, that when men are targeted, their wives also get embroiled by association. On the other hand, if a woman is supposed to be practising witchcraft, it is considered possible that she may be doing so without the knowledge of her family. That is why at times the spouses or families of such women, in trying to protect themselves, dissociate themselves from the woman who is then left to fend for herself. A report by the organisation Partners in Law and Development (PLD), taking into account data from different states, says that 86 per cent of the primary targets of witch-hunting are women, and of these most fall in the age group of 40-60 years. So not just those women who are typically seen as vulnerable, such as single women and widows, but also the ones 'secure' in their marital families face the threat of witch-hunting. In a study focusing on witch-hunting in Assam, PLD also discovered that in 12 out of the 16 cases they were examining the victims had had no formal education.

The Making of a Witch

Women have been the face of evil in fairy tales and folklores for centuries, like Tejimola's evil stepmother in one of Assam's folktales. There are male ghosts too but in literature or motion pictures, the fear invoked by the woman with supernatural powers remains unmatched. Power in men is supposed to be a part of their natural being. There is a matter-of-factness about it. But women are inherently supposed to be defenceless and fragile. For them to have strong powers is an aberration. At times they are allowed to be wonder women, in ways that retain their attractiveness under the male gaze. But more frequently media and mythology suggest that they tend to get consumed by their own prowess more often than men. It is Eve who has to bite into the apple for all hell to break loose.

There are many ways in which this mystery, and then mistrust, around women's capabilities gets built. In villages or cities, when there are programmes to raise awareness around reproductive issues men would keep out of it or would be asked to stay out. What happens is that instead of understanding there is fear or contempt for the reproductive capabilities of women's bodies. One woman was targeted as a witch because during her menstruation she noticed some other emissions and when she went to a doctor about it, it became a matter of public knowledge and, soon, fear.

Then there is this hostility towards the hungry woman. She is the antonym to the woman who starves and fasts for others in the family and never says she is hungry even if she is malnourished. A woman who acknowledges this hunger and wants it satiated becomes a witch who feeds on the flesh and blood of others to strengthen herself. Anita Rabha, 58, lives in Baida village in Lakhipur block of Goalpara district. Years ago, a boy in her area suffered a dog bite. His father consulted a kobiraj, who acted like a traditional doctor for villagers. The kobiraj said that he would not be able to cure the boy. When the boy died, another kobiraj said that he had been eaten by a witch and pointed to Anita's house. It seems too much of a coincidence that this second kobiraj was related to Anita and her spouse, and had been in dispute with them over a piece of land. At this juncture, Anita received the support of her maternal family, who brought the couple to their home after they got driven out of their own house, but Birbal Rabha, her spouse, decided to separate from her. She now works at the local thana, the police station, washing utensils and clothes. She talks of how her younger son is finding it tough to pass the matriculation exam. Once he does, she says, he could get a driving licence and a job as a driver. Anita's daughter, 22, is in her third year of college and had also been going to computer classes but is not studying at present because of a problem with her hand. One doctor has diagnosed her with arthritis. Wrenched away from her home and village and fending for herself and her children, Anita worries as her own age diminishes her capabilities. When she does get some time, she tries to attend meetings of AMSS, the Assam Mahila Samata Samiti, which has been staunchly fighting the practice of witch-hunting.

Anita Rabha, driven out of her village on suspicion of witchcraft

Identifying and Targeting ‘Witches’

I meet AMSS members in Goalpara, where they work in five blocks. Goalpara also receives funds from the government because it is listed as a backward district. A number of women from neighbouring villages have been well trained as active members of the Samiti, which now has a strong network, and so the coordinator has to intervene only in extreme cases. AMSS has a long list of witch-hunting cases they intervened in. In 2012, Dukhumoli Daimari, a widow with children, was finally able to get her house built. Her son had also become independent and had been doing well. This prosperity of an unfortunate woman became unpalatable for some relatives in the family who consulted an ojha, a kind of an astrologer-doctor-priest, who declared Dukhumoli a witch.

An ojha performing a ritual in her temple

Ojhas are important because they supposedly put the final stamp of identification on the witches to be targeted. The ojha I met, however, an old woman living in as much poverty as her next door neighbour in the village, did not come across as such an all-powerful figure. Surrounded by several of her grandchildren in her dimly lit hut, she showed me the small temple of mud where she had established the idol of a goddess. She plaintively remarked that ojhas are maligned for naming witches, while all they do is give a vague description of the person and the area to people who have already decided who they wish to target.

AMSS's intervention process involved a big meeting with all the villagers who had turned against Dukhumoli. Yet for about a year she had to live in a separate house outside the village, protected by the police and supported by groups like the Rabha Students Organisation and the Bodo Mahila Samiti. Finally an agreement was signed with the villagers where they said they would not trouble Dukhumoli again after she returned home and she, in turn, would not take any action against them.

AMSS fights witch hunting through direct intervention and awareness programmes

Ruma Kalita, AMSS, says, I cannot think of a case where a woman went to the police directly. We intervene in a case if we get to know of it from our members or a woman could come to us if she knows of the group. Acceptance of the ostracised person finally happens by the village, though it does take time.’ This reconciliation often comes on the condition that no action would be taken against the villagers who had earlier assaulted the so-called witch. Something similar happened with Onila Basumatary.

Onila offers a guesstimate of 45-50 years upon being asked about her age. She had come to Assam from Noakhali after her marriage. Onila, along with two of her friends, had lent money to a person belonging to the Santhal tribe. Santhalis in Assam are often viewed with suspicion and distrust and considered outsiders. Because of their interactions with the person, all three women were suspected of being involved in witchcraft and were brutally attacked with lathis by about eighty people. Onila was later called the luckier one because another friend of hers, already weak due to an illness she was going through, succumbed to her injuries.

Onila still continues to take medicines for the joint pains that had started after she was beaten up. A month after the attack she was not even able to move from her bed. All of this happened within a day in the Brahmo temple in the village and she never got a chance to refute the allegations foisted upon her. She did not file a police case because later people of the village gave her a thousand rupees for her treatment. She smiles sadly on being asked if that much money was enough. Someone from the village came with me when I was going to the doctor. I had to pay for his food and conveyance, along with mine. For a week every day I had to go to the doctor and still have to continue those visits to the civil hospital in Udalguri. I feel like I have been ill for ever. I don't feel like a healthy person any more.’

Around 80 people attacked Onila Basumatary with lathis, after having branded her a witch

Onila does not have any land herself and works as a daily wage labourer. Her daughter-in-law weaves clothes but the output is just about enough for their own domestic consumption. Does she feel angry with the villagers about the injustice meted out to her, I am not upset. What is the use? You have to live with these people. Now they talk to me like nothing had happened.’

The Prejudice of the Educated

It is believed that lack of education is the cause of witch-hunting in villages. But are the educated free of prejudice? The headmaster of Baida Junior College, Listiram Rabha, is also the honorary founder principal there. When asked about the practice of witch-hunting he says, When a dakini, the witch, commits malpractices, she gets beaten up by the public. I would say they should not be killed. They should get a chance to rectify themselves.’ He recalls having acted as a mediator in many cases and saved the practitioners of witchcraft from the public, and the public from the law.

He continues to talk about the practice of dark rituals,There is an oppodevata, a god with a supernatural, malevolent force that some people tame. If this force is sent to harm someone, the person would fall so ill that no doctor would be able to cure him. The patient would then have to offer some sacrifice. Content with this offering, the force will then help the practitioner again in the future when they summon the god. I saw on television that in a lady's house in Guwahati, curtains get set on fire. Such things are the work of the gods that I speak of. To tame such gods is a big art and Rabhas are experts in this.’
While he condemns the violent methods of witch-hunting, he speaks of the importance of education not in reforming the hunters but in transforming those he calls the practitioners, Education is increasing. Tantric practices around here have gone down by about 60 per cent. People are going out to study but there aren't as many women doing this. They should.’

Working with Witch Hunters, Against Witch-Hunting

The mention of DGP Kula Saikia and his Project Prahari keeps coming up as an example of a campaign against witch-hunting. When I meet him at his office, it is easy to notice his pride in the campaign he had initiated, as in the Fulbright scholarship he had received for education in the US where he had studied models of community development. He fondly speaks of how this helped him connect better with people, Recently a village woman called me up and said, For us, you are our God . . . these things are not common in the life of a police officer.’

Saikia talks about how witch-hunting is not a new phenomenon and traces its history in European countries. In 2001, I was DIG, Kokrajhar. It is situated in lower Assam, which has a lot of tribal areas.’ When he read cases of how several people were murdered as part of witch-hunting, he felt it would need something more than traditional policing. I learnt that before the crime the people of the village had held a meeting. I had to see it as a societal crime.’ Saikia found it a pity that community strength was being used in the wrong direction and wondered if it could be mobilised for a more constructive purpose.

When he questioned the villagers about the murders, they said they had been having several issues like crop failures and illnesses. So when the priest told them of the witch responsible for their misfortunes, they decided to eliminate her. Saikia talks of how earlier people were afraid of the police but his project started a dialogue with the people and people began inviting Saikia to their villages voluntarily.

He decided that the villages need development, in the absence of which, people had started attacking their vulnerable fellow villagers due to frustration about their own conditions. He started creating what he calls a change agent-led growth model, roping in women's groups, students' groups, science clubs and doctors. The villagers resolved to take up productive activities like weaving. Project Prahari brought in designers from the National Institute of Design, agricultural experts, conducted health camps and sports like football. The idea was to facilitate participation by local people in their own progress. We got people together to build their bridges and canals themselves, instead of always having to wait for the government to come in. Women got empowered and got confident enough to approach us for information about government schemes for them. If children were dying in a village in large numbers, I would get their blood tests done and it would turn out to be something like malaria. Terrorists would ask villagers not to interact with me but people would pay no heed.’ The campaign against witch-hunting thus spread to around hundred villages, led by the first village which had once been the perpetrator of the crime.

Gaps to be Mended

NEN isn't quick to buy Saikia's claim. If the project was so successful, why was it not continued?asks NEN's Anurita Pathak. Why didn't they raise funds, integrate anti-witch-hunting lessons in education and health in regional langauges?

Chitralekha Barua of the same organisation underlines the media's role in encouraging regressive attitudes to women: TV serials still keep women within the confines of their homes. Local channels would advertise which babas or priests you can go to if you are tamed by dakinis.’

NEN has been vociferous in demanding an anti-witch hunt legislation for the state but the bill has still not got the final approval. There are also other concerns around the present bill like a lack of nuanced understanding of the terms witchcraft and witchhunt, bez and ojha (both loosely used as terms for those who identify a certain person as a witch), and the differences between Assamese and Bodo languages. Activists worry that it does not focus enough on prevention. Professor Upen Rabha Hakasam of the department of folklore, Gauhati University, has personally faced the menace of witch-hunting as his own cousin, married in a well to do, highly educated household, had fallen prey to it. He says, The British had been able to abolish the abhorrent practice of Sati by law. Why can't our government use the law to abolish witch-hunting?

The Silver Lining

Outside of the law there have been attempts by artists to focus on the implications of witch-hunting, while activists use art to bolster their campaign. AMSS has travelled twenty villages with its play, along with putting up 200 awareness camps. There are films like Aei MaatiteWitch-Hunt Diaries and Jangfai Jonak on the subject. 

Working for years now on ground zero, through village level branches called sanghas, AMSS members say that there has been a decrease in the number of murders because of witch-hunting, though many cases of ostracisation and assault are still there. The survivors who would previously hesitate to report cases are much more confident now. They talk of instances when the police demanded affidavits from women saying they would not withdraw their complaints. Some survivors also end up joining the organisation. Women have started demanding property rights. AMSS members visit the homes of women employed as labour, as carpenters and stone cutters, and get them registered so they have economic stability and are not completely vulnerable or dependent. AMSS adds that the power wielded by ojhas has weakened, and people have started going more to doctors; health centres in villages have helped.

AMSS itself has faced assault by villagers, who feared that the organisation would report them to the police. They called the women working with AMSS witches and their leaders like Mamoni and Birubala head witches. But the organisation did not take legal action against them because they wanted people to realise what they were doing was wrong, which they ultimately did and apologised.

Going beyond Black-and-White

In trying to understand witch-hunting, if we look at each case carefully, there seem to be some immediate causes like deep-set prejudices against women, poor health, education and economic status, inter- and intra-familial rivalries, ignorance and superstition. But a superior, patronising approach of relegating these features only to certain sections of society, marginalised in terms of gender, social or economic status, won't help. There are enough incidents to show that the practice also goes on in families with ample money and education. Something like non-conformism by women is punished across classes. In villages, women whose spouses treat them well, as equal partners, have been called witches. In cities, if a woman is loved and respected by her partner, she is asked what magic she had to resort to in order to keep the man in her control.

Similarly, rather than assuming that witch-hunting takes place in certain societies because they are backward and uneducated would be taking a myopic view of things. In his paper 'Assam’s Tale of Witch-hunting and Indigeneity', Debarshi Prasad Nath makes some important larger connections, like linking witch-hunting to an aggressive, revivalist effort to establish cultural identities in a state where identity conflicts over resources are a common feature. Nath talks of how Bodo history doesn't have records of witch-hunts. He relates the frequency of witch-hunting in Bodo communities to a possible attempt by Bodo people to integrate themselves with an ancient part of Assamese history. Nath's paper points to the possibility of witch-hunting being a skewed way in which some members of the community try to resist a homogenisation imposed by majoritarian groups. The infamous witch-hunting incident that took place in Majuli in Assam comes to mind where for three days in 2013 even the police could/did not enter the area to intervene.

Then there is the case of the ex-principal of Udalguri College, Prafulla Kumar Basumatary. His wife was named as a witch by Basumatary's niece. The niece had been pursuing her MBA in Mumbai and had come to her village in Assam at that time. Her aunt, the accused, says there were two reasons for this targeting: jealousy around the fact that Basumatary's own children were doing very well in cities in terms of education and work, and because the said niece was in love with someone her own family was not allowing her to marry, and she found this an easy way to vent her frustration. So, here, along with familial rivalry and socioeconomic insecurities, for the niece there was the pressured and uncomfortable coexistence of an aspirational city life along with the traditional expectations of her family.

Blamed by their own relatives, the Basumatary family had to rebuild their home elsewhere
Along with a nuanced understanding of the triggers to witch-hunting while working with perpetrators, there also needs to be a patient unearthing of unsaid narratives of the survivors. NEN's Anurita Pathak points out that in many cases the victims can hope to get some kind of justice only after they are dead. But witch-hunting is not just an isolated incident. It is often a protracted process that can also include sexual violence, stalking, disrobing, molestation, acid attacks and public humiliation, rejecting sexual advances being one of the causes. Due to stigma and resignation to the fact that the survivors have to continue to live amongst their attackers, many of these stories never come to the fore, leading to not just a denial of justice but also a never-articulated demand for it.

First published in Eclectic NorthEast, January 2017. Subsequently published in India Resists, 3 Mar 2017. Photos by Jadeed Hussain and Nasreen Habib.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Saving our Culture, Killing our Daughters

Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping.

- Hubert Reeves

We’d like to share a few vignettes with you. These are true stories about women that the authors know. Their real names have been changed to protect their identities. It has been a difficult journey to connect the dots, not to see the stories as atomized happenings built from particular contexts. As soon as we started linking the struggle of women here in India to the globalized context of corporate capitalism with its corollaries of extraction, patriarchy and cannibalism, an emerging thought-form started to show itself. It is the concept of wetiko, a word that comes from the Cree Nation, one of the First Peoples of North America. More on that later.
After spending almost a decade in an unhappy marriage, Nikita finds the courage to get out of the destructive relationship. When her family finds out, her father threatens to kill her. She attempts suicide—a move that she believes to be her only recourse. Although she is somehow saved after a close shave with death, her mother continues to insist that there must still be no question of a divorce. She cannot stray outside the cultural context of male-dependent marriage.
One day before her wedding, Roshni discovers the abusive side of the man she is planning to marry. She tells her father that she wants to call the wedding off. He gets furious and says he's already spent a fortune on the wedding preparations. He shouts the cold calculus of investment and invokes the cultural and social shame that would follow if she does not stay the course. And so she does. The outcome is predictably horrendous.
After years of convincing her parents (daring to do so because she had taken care to choose someone from the same caste), Kriti finally marries the man she loves. Dowry is also demanded by and given to the groom's family. Kriti accepts this, feeling that the man could not be rude to his parents by interfering with their way of things and saying no to a dowry. A month into the marriage, her spouse starts physically assaulting her and cutting off her contact with everyone outside the marriage. She works up the courage to tell her parents and talks of lodging a police complaint and leaving him. They call up the man and condemn his behavior, but forbid her from leaving the relationship. They say she chose the relationship, a contract was sealed, and she must now accept the consequences.
What is the common thread in all of these cases? Of course, the institution of marriage plays a central role. As do the cultural norms---familial expectations, caste requirements,  national demands, the precepts of patriarchy and the hegemony of globalized capitalistic mores. The assumed subservience of women and the desirability of a patriarchal marital arrangement are taken as givens.
In all these cases, the women were economically independent. Some even had what is often a luxury in Indian society - the "freedom" of dating and choosing a man to marry as long as he didn't not belong to certain castes or religions. Yet, once they entered the institution of marriage, they were chained by its rules such that to try to break out would have been seen by their families as a violation of their "culture" and "honour", and the most egregious “failure”. The fear of this rupture in cultural norms dominated their minds so much that some were willing to kill their offspring, while others didn't seem to care about whether or how their daughters would live if forced to continue within the oppressive structure of their marriages.
Some will argue that these are distinctively Indian problems. That the violence against women is endemic to our culture. But if we step back far enough, it becomes clear that this stems from our violence against the ultimate female deity – Gaia herself.
Our separation from Nature started over 12,000 years ago with the advent of what Daniel Quinn calls “totalitarian agriculture”’ when we left the trusting bosom of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and built the first city-states through the mechanistic extraction of farming. Many hunter-gatherer tribes were matriarchal, as women brought in the majority of the food, and did so on a more consistent basis than their male-hunting counterparts.
Economic anthropologists tell us that the first buildings we created in the Fertile Crescent were granaries. Once we had a surplus of food to protect, the natural social extension was a militia to protect the food, and then of course, a hierarchy of nobles and priests to manage the managers. The Ziggurats of Ur and Babylon point to the genus of our current brand of capitalism, which is simply the logical continuation of the exploitation of Nature, accumulation by dispossession, the wholesale commodification of Life, the pillage of slavery and colonialism, the rationalistic duality of the Enlightenment, and the extractive heaving of our Earth to fuel the Industrial Revolution. Late-stage capitalism, or neoliberalism, as some prefer to call it, is the outcome of all of these historical forces.
These machinations of modernity have always required a contempt for the natural world. The scientific revolution of Bacon and Darwin, and the resulting speciesism corroborated our special place above Nature, and indeed above the feminine aspects of our own nature.
From the inception of the first Ziggurat, men were rewarded for their brutality, ruthlessness and sheer strength. Women were subjugated as weak and irrational commodities to be traded to the most tolerant bidder. This history is not particular to India. It is the history of our so-called civilization.
When the Cree Nation in what is now North America first came into contact with European colonialists, they thought the Europeans were consumed by wetiko, a mind-virus of cannibalism. The Sioux Nation perceived them in much the same light, referring to the newcomers as Wasichu or “”fat-takers.” It has been argued that this thought-form originated from our initial separation from Nature, or more accurately, our perceived separation. Like all memetic viruses, wetiko is communicable – it moves from one host to another, whether that is an entire culture or an individual, mutating to best serve the illusions of its host, driving it further onto the path of self-consumption until there is nothing left.
Instead of being loving parents, it is common for people to turn into masters who own their daughters and disown them at the first sign of disobedience. Looking at the stories of these women who are denied recognition and rights as independent human beings, and witnessing the condition of the Earth that is called our Mother, in this Anthropocene era where 200 species are going extinct every day, there is no doubt that the spirit of wetiko has been embodied into the globalized system, especially the Western democracies. Their  spreading of the wetiko meme has taken the form of an invisible hand that’s dirven by, selfish rationalism, market fundamentalism and financial capitalism. It has resulted in the superiority of man over woman, calcifying cultures over empathetic adaptation, and cannibalism over Life itself.
Whatever we think Indian culture is, however autonomous and historically endowed, once we see the larger historical viewpoint, the constellational entanglements with the British Empire, imperialism, cultural genocide, and the imposition of wetiko values, we will see that Indian culture is just one configuration that was created through a set of male-dominated rules and the tumultuous compounds of historical accretions. In many ways, culture is just a collective delusion, a set of shared beliefs, expectations and role behaviors. We have a choice at this juncture in human history: to save our culture and kill our daughters, or to transcend our culture, and have women fully participate in the process of guiding our collective evolution to create the potential for a living planet once again.

First published in Intercontinental Cry, 24 Jan 2017. With Alnoor Ladha.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

गौ राशि की कन्या

हमारी लड़की गाय है
आप इसे जननी, भगिनी, भार्या . .  . 
किसी भी किरदार में डाल सकते हैं
बासी रोटी, घास-फूस, प्लास्टिक
कुछ भी खाकर एक कोने में पड़ी रहेगी.  

और खासकर उपयोगी सिद्ध होगी तब,
जब इसके नाम पर, इसके मान के लिए
आप अपने गौरव की लड़ाई लड़ेंगे.  

First published in Indian Cultural Forum, 9 Dec 2016.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

एक पत्रकार की मौत

तुम्हारे लिए ज़रूरी हो गई 
क्योंकि तुम्हारे हिसाब से 
वो अपने कद से ऊपर उठने की कोशिश कर रहा था। 

पर अगर वो इतना ही गौण होता 
तो तुम्हें ना दिखता
तुम्हारी नज़र में ना चुभता। 

और अगर तुम इतने ही ऊँचे होते,
तो उसी की लाश पर अपने डगमगाते कदम रख 
तुम्हें उचक कर नज़र में आने की 
मशक्कत ना करनी पड़ती। 

First published in Indian Cultural Forum, 9 Dec 2016.

Incomprehension exercise

With Twitter and Facebook
And useless alleys and Jantar Mantar,
Which were benevolently left out of Section 144,
Allowing people the small mercies
Of boasting, roasting, masticating,
Everyone has developed the bad habit
Of having an opinion.

The evening smoke
Rising from the corn on the cob
Wraps your heads in a sensuous aura
And you think you are the bosses-
The bosses on everything
From malnutrition to the moon.

Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you
But you are not experts.

It takes a certain level of expertise
To understand why there is no alternative
Why people must be killed
Why children must be maimed
Why rapes must be committed
Why lawmakers must flout the law.

It takes hard work, blood and sweat,
Erasure of histories and creation of fresh ones under tight deadlines
To develop the nuanced understanding
That with great power comes great arbitrariness.

If those in positions of responsibility
Don't abort the questions brewing in others
They'd be reminded in a flash of their own,
And of memories of others in similar positions

Who tried to be careful custodians of power
And started wondering
Who they were
Responsible for
Accountable to
Whose purpose they were fulfilling
Whose they had pledged to.

They then faced
Sleepless nights, arrests, enquiries,
And the feel of a bullet injected inside their temple with their own hand.

A wise man learns from others' mistakes.
The wise men of today know
That to peer too deep into the sockets of the skull in your hand
Invites the risk of your skull soon being in another hand
They know the only way to keep their head is to bury it in the sand.
But you, all of you worthy of such men's contempt and disgust, you just don't understand.

First published in Indian Cultural Forum, 9 Dec 2016.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

पुराना मुर्गा, नया चोर

पास जब खिलौने नहीं थे,
हम चोर-सिपाही खेलते। 
झूठमूठ की बंदूक से 
कभी तुम मरते, कभी मैं। 

अब सचमुच के हैं तमंचे,
हम अब भी होते दो हिस्से। 
पकड़म-पकड़ाई का अब भी दौर,
बस खेल रहा कोई और। 

First published in Indian Cultural Forum, 9 Dec 2016.


Uniforms do not err;
To err is human.

Does superhuman at times include inhuman?

First published in Indian Cultural Forum, 9 Dec 2016.


Blogger last spotted practising feminism, writing, editing, street theatre, aspirational activism.